The Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE) is making a difference in worldwide reproductive rights.

CHANGE is a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization that originated in 1994 in direct response to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, a meeting that produced a human rights framework for development assistance. In 2001, CHANGE became an independent NGO and its policy work expanded to gender integration, gender-based violence, and female condom programming, amongst other initiatives.

Today, the organization aims to ensure that U.S. foreign policies and programs promote female sexual and reproductive health to a human rights standard around the world. CHANGE hopes to remove the ideology-based and counterproductive restrictions in U.S. policy to create a brighter future for women everywhere.

To accomplish its goals, CHANGE works with policymakers in Washington, D.C. The organization believes that there is no better way to get direct influence in shaping U.S. foreign policy than to take action where policies originate.

From the start CHANGE realized that it could not receive funding from the organization it was built to oversee, and thus it refuses to accept funding from the U.S. government, instead relying on private foundations and individuals.

Aligning U.S. policies to match a comprehensive, human-rights based framework for sexual and reproductive health programs is an important step for encouraging other countries around the world to accept a worldwide standard for reproductive health and gender equality. Developing countries look towards the United States as a marker against which to compare their own reproductive health care reforms.

In acknowledging the UN’s goal to achieve universal reproductive health care access by 2015, CHANGE has set its own goal for the U.S.: to raise its annual support to at least $1 billion. Through its efforts and the help of its many volunteers and partnership with U.S. policymakers, CHANGE hopes to construct a world in which sexual and reproductive health care is universally accessible and available.

– Alexandra Bruschi

Sources: Gender Health, National Council of Women’s Organizations
Photo: C-Change